Disney hires Bahamian environmentalists to manage conservation programs

Disney Cruise Line (DCL) has hired two Bahamians as conservation programs managers, to oversee environment management in The Bahamas, but especially for the Lighthouse Point cruise port project on Eleuthera which is now under construction, the company said in a statement.

According to Disney, Bradley Watson, who has been appointed Bahamas conservation programs manager and Pachancia Knowles, who holds the position of Bahamas assistant conservation programs manager, will be responsible for leading the company’s environmental management plan and local conservation strategies. 

Conservation Science Manager with Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment Dr. Andy Stamper said in the statement that Watson’s and Knowles’ history of work in The Bahamas will be valuable to Disney’s commitment to conservation and protection in The Bahamas and the region.

“At Disney, our approach to protecting the environment has always been centered on the idea that people are the key to meaningful and lasting conservation success,” said Stamper.

According to the statement, Watson has worked as a science officer with the Bahamas National Trust (BNT) and has led conservation and ecotourism projects on Abaco, Grand Bahama and Eleuthera.

“In this role, he led successful conservation efforts on both private and public lands, including a monitoring program to protect a rare species of songbird, drone mapping of vulnerable ecosystems and increasing awareness of endangered animals,” the statement said. 

“As a result of these efforts and others, Watson was named The Bahamas’ national youth climate ambassador earlier this year.”

The statement added that Knowles was formerly a marine science officer with the BNT, assisting with marine monitoring and restoration programs in the country’s national parks.

“Knowles aims to inspire future generations to care for wildlife and the environment, stemming from her experiences as an educator and animal trainer,” the statement said.

“She has developed far-reaching partnerships with local organizations, government officials, educators, students, landowners, fishers, international groups and others to foster a shared sense of responsibility to protect the environment.”

Knowles said in the statement that she looks forward to working with Disney to celebrate and protect the region’s rich biodiversity.

Disney’s Lighthouse Point project has been a bone of contention for environmentalists ever since it was proposed. The Lighthouse Point property is one of the last unspoiled areas of Eleuthera, and hosts a diversity of marine and terrestrial wildlife.

Disney has promised to construct a low-density facility at its port location, including a trestle pier to dock its cruise ship that will allow for continued tidal flow in the area. It has also donated a portion of the land it owns to the government and vowed that Bahamians would not be barred from visiting the site.

Disney has also committed to filling all of its positions on its private island Castaway Cay with Bahamians.

“DCL has long been committed to The Bahamas, including its most recent ‘Wishes Set Sail’ campaign to support youth initiatives in the cruise line’s key port communities,” the statement said.

“Since its maiden voyage in 1998, Disney has introduced countless families to the beauty and spirit of The Bahamas and has provided significant economic impact, while demonstrating a strong commitment to the environment and the community.

“Approximately 75 percent of the cruises offered by Disney have at least one stop in The Bahamas, all five of its ships are registered in The Bahamas and it is estimated that DCL operations currently contribute more than $70 million toward The Bahamas’ gross domestic product annually.”

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Chester Robards

Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian. Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism

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